This ain’t a Mickey Mouse tale…

This year, no matter how much I try, I just can’t get in to the Christmas Spirit.

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It’s like it’s not even December.

It’s cold outside, and our heating is on.  I have a beautiful new pair of winter boots that hubby has bought for me (early birthday present).  I’ve been wearing my lovely, grey, winter coat and scarf.  Homemade, paper decorations are sprawled across our house – paper snowflakes, stars and chains.  There are several Christmas cards on our window-ledge, and we’ve got a beautiful, wooden winter scene on display, that my dad made…

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However, we didn’t have the tree up.

It’s become a tradition, in our house, that our tree and decorations go up on 1 December; but it wasn’t possible, as there was just too much to do in the house.  There was still cleaning to be done, mainly due to a couple of mishaps in the boys room a few weeks ago (long story).

A couple of days came and went, and Gning was questioning why we haven’t got our tree up.  So on 4 December, hubby got the step-ladder out, and up in to the attic he went.

He passed the attic door to me, and then I heard him say, “looks like we’ve got mice…  There’s droppings everywhere”.

He passed the large, red bag, containing the tree down to me…  “Be careful,” he said to me, “looks like they’ve eaten this…”  Hubby then handed me a couple of our Christmas stockings, which also had decorations in them, but it looks like the mice had got to them too.

Everything was either chewed, or had droppings on.  The tree bag was slightly damp, and had fresh droppings on it.  It made me worried to open it in the house, so we carefully carried everything out to the driveway, where we keep our wheelie-bins.

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Not actually our tree, but this is what we had to do 😦

Very little was salvageable.  Thankfully, I managed to save a few of my special decorations that I had been collecting over the years.  They needed a bloody good wash, but were still able to be used.  So this left us with a handful of baubles, and a single set of fairy lights.

So it was decided.  We had no choice but to buy a new tree and decorations, and we found them in our local Asda (otherwise known as Wal-mart).

As soon as we got home, we unpacked everything and started to decorate.  Gning and Donut helped the hubby with the new baubles, and they had a great time in doing so.

Granted, our new 5ft tree wasn’t the 7ft tree we were used to, but it is still lovely all the same.  I love it!  It’s super cute, and fits in to the corner nicely.

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We’ve still got a few things that we need to buy, but at least we have our tree up!

As for the mice, well, I’m afraid there’s not going to be any good news for them.

Normally I’m tolerant of mice.  I like them.  They’re so small, and they need to live freely, but I have a different rule when they’re in the house.  And they are.  They’re living comfortably, up in my attic, and I don’t want to take the chance of them coming down, actually in to the house.  I’m currently pricing up traps…  Not the old ones, that snap and kill (I couldn’t cope with that), but one of the box things…

Sorry Mickey, Minnie, Mighty and Jerry – you’re about to be evicted.

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20 ways kids make Christmas magical

It’s easy for Christmas BC (Before Children) to feel more about our hangovers and expanding waistlines (not to mention our overdrafts) than any real festive spirit. Then you have a child and all that changes. Not since you were a nipper, anxiously listening out for Father Christmas in your PJs, have you felt so infused with joy and enchantment.

Here are 20 ways that Christmas becomes magical when you’re a parent …

1. It used to drive you bonkers that Christmas started pretty much in October (oh, yes it did…) but now you can’t wait for the shops to bust out the Christmas lights and to hear Noddy Holder’s dulcet tones. Ooh, and the advent calendars, and the ads and the Christmas lists…  How many times have you rewritten yours?

2. Nothing can prepare you for the heart-melting sweetness of watching your little one in their very first Christmas nativity or school play, whether they have a starring role or not (it’s Gning’s first Nativity on 7 December).  Don’t forget your tissues!

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3. Kids make it OK to sport clashing decorations and an OTT Christmas tree.  In fact, the more of mash-up of colours and styles of baubles, the better.

4. It’s FINALLY acceptable to buy chocolate decorations again. Just remember to leave a few for the kids, eh?

5. Their Christmas list to Santa reads like a stock-taking sheet of ToysRUs and Smyths combined.  But it’s the ‘and I’ve been soooo good’ line that really makes you smile.

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6. Thank goodness this year you’ve got a good excuse for the misshapen mince pies.  All your toddler’s own work, yes?

7. You love channelling your inner-storyteller with stories of Father Christmas and seeing your children’s eyes widen with delight.

8. Creating your very own traditions is something you’ll share for a lifetime.  Maybe you write a Christmas poem together, or put on a little festive play for the grandparents?  Or leave one more present in the garden to be discovered – “Oh look!  Santa must have dropped it!”

9. Leaving a glass or milk (or something stronger) for Father Christmas, and a carrot for Rudolph, never loses it’s charm.  And neither does…

10. …drinking that something stronger on Christmas Eve, when the wee ones are safely asleep.

11. Nothing beats that amazing feeling of satisfaction on Christmas Eve when everything is wrapped and ready for the next day.  Savour the scene – because the next day it’s carnage!  Hope your recycling bins are empty…

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12. Not to encourage your inner bah, humbug, but it’s a great time of year to dodge any tedious social engagements: honestly, babysitters are so unreliable…

13. Family films are no longer an indulgence, they’re mandatory.  From the Muppet’s Christmas Carol to Home Alone, it’s the perfect season to snuggle up on the sofa.

14. Talking of which, make your brood hot chocolate with marshmallows. And have one yourself.

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15. Place your bets on what time Christmas Day officially starts.  And yes, it feels magical even though it’s 5am.

16. As you watch them open their pressies, you remember the fizzy feeling of thrill and excitement you had as a child.  And seeing the joy your children bring to their grandparents is priceless.

17. Eating together as a family is something to take time over and savour.  Who cares if the potatoes are a tiny bit burnt, or the sprouts a bit hard?  It doesn’t have to be perfect to be appreciated.

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18. Snow is what dreams are made of when you’re five.  And snow at Christmas…  Cue delirious children and giggling parents!

19. The pleasure of tumbling back into a warm and cosy house after a good old stomp outside brings the colour to everyone’s cheeks.

20. Knowing at the close of Christmas day that the hard work is over for another year – and despite the odd flurry of tears and tantrums – they’ve had a pretty wonderful day.  Well done, you.  Only 365 days to go…

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Away in a Manger

It’s been in the news a lot over the past couple of weeks, primarily in the UK.  I’m unsure if this actually affects the rest of the world, but I think it’s about time to spread the word.

Christmas.  It’s a celebration that occurs once a year, on 25 December.  We rejoice and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.  Granted, a lot of the religion has left Christmas now…

For most, it’s about giving and receiving presents.  Eating a massive meal, that normally makes you feel sick afterwards.  Spending a bit of time with family.  Watching bad TV…  I’m wondering.  Why have just one day for that?  I mean I regularly visit my parents.  We regularly eat a big meal together, and we sometimes give small gifts; “just because”.  Why should I do the same on Christmas Day?  Surely the day is meant for something more…

Oh wait.  It is.  Here’s that word again.  Religion.

Am I right in saying that religion is no longer a part of Christmas?  I’m sorry to say that I do believe, in most peoples’ celebrations, it has isn’t.

The UK is a multi-cultural set of countries.  We have so many races and religions here, that it’s impossible to list them all.  Like it or not, the United Kingdom is a Christian country.  Yes, I said it.  We’re CHRISTIAN.  That means that the governing religion is the Church of England.  The Queen (long may she reign) is the keeper of the throne until the true leader returns.  This being Jesus Christ.

Unfortunately, and this is where I feel I am going to be attacked, the UK has had to throw away a lot of its’ Christian faith traditions due to the fear that we are insulting those of other faiths.  A lot of places are unable to even fly the Union Jack…  Now what that’s got to do with religion is beyond me.

For many years, there has been an amazing tradition in schools throughout the UK.  It’s a time of year that some parents dread, and some parents love.  It’s a chance for their child/ren to dress up, and take part in a play of the “Greatest Story Ever Told”.  The Nativity.

I never went to a church school.  I went to a “community” school; which meant that anyone from any faith was welcome.

I can remember in nursery (pre-school), I was always an angel.  I was never one of the main characters, but one of the angels that just sort of “floated” around in the background.  Mainly because they had run out of spaces in the play, but yet everyone in the nursery had to be in it.  I can remember the white dress…  I’m fairly sure it was made out of an old bed sheet.  My hair was loose around my shoulders, my thick NHS glasses covered a patch over my eye (sight problems), and I donned a “beautiful” halo, made out of tacky gold tinsel (did you get the sarcasm there?).  It was quite literally hell on earth.  I loved it.

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I’m immediately underneath the red arrow.

When I dropped my son off at nursery this morning, I asked one of the teachers there if they did any Christmas crafts; like making snowmen or angels out of empty toilet roll tubes, or even make Christmas cards…  The response I got was a blank look, and a simple “no”.  Granted, my son goes to a private nursery where I have to pay for him to be there, but surely because I am paying, they should do some form of request..?!  What shocked me most of all was the lack of Christmas decorations.  I enquired to their where-abouts too, to the response of “we’re not allowed to show any bias towards Christmas due to other faiths in the nursery that may not celebrate”.  I was disgusted.  Thankfully, I will be sending my son to a church school…  Surely they will do some form of Christmas crafts / Nativity there..?

Well.  Not necessarily.  This is where we have come full circle to the beginning of my post.  In the news recently, it’s been stated that 95% of schools throughout the UK are not performing the Nativity.  Instead, they are having a “Winter Festival”, or an “End of Year Concert”.  These performances will not have any form of religion what-so-ever, and will include the likes of the importance of recycling; aliens dancing with humans; and more…  No Christmas music either.  That’s not allowed.

The reason?  Because a certain faith has made a complaint that it offends them.

Can I repeat what I said earlier?  If you are going to move to a CHRISTIAN country, you should respect their rules and traditions.  Afterall, if a Christian moved to a country with a different faith, we would probably be shot if we said that some of their traditions offended us.

My conclusion?  We’re in the UK.  If you want to be classed as, and treated as a British citizen, then act like one.  The Nativity has been an important part of UK history since Christianity first came to the country.  Please.  Respect our rights.

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